Injustice in Jena, Louisiana, USA: The "White" Tree

In a small, still mostly segregated section of rural Louisiana, an all-white jury heard a series of white witnesses called by a white prosecutor testify in a courtroom overseen by a white judge in a trial of a fight at the local high school where a white student who had been making racial taunts was hit by black students. The fight was the culmination of a series of racial incidents starting when whites responded to black students sitting under the "white" tree at their school by hanging three nooses from the tree. The white jury and white prosecutor and all white supporters of the white victim were all on one side of the courtroom. The black defendant, 17 year old Mychal Bell, and his supporters were on the other. The jury quickly convicted Mychal Bell of two felonies - aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. Bell, who was a 16 year old sophomore football star at the time he was arrested, faces up to 22 years in prison. Five other black youths await similar trials on attempted second degree murder and conspiracy charges. Mychal Bell is scheduled to be sentenced on July 31st. If he gets the maximum sentence he will not be out of prison until he is nearly 40. Read More

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Some Questions

via 16.Jul.2007 22:35

Comment @

Barry Marchessault said,

July 16, 2007 at 6:22 pm

once you contact some of the parties involved you may want to ask them some of the questions I just quickly threw together or come up with some of your own!

Why is Michael Bell being charged as an adult?

What did the prosecutor mean when he stated that he could end the children’s lives with the stroke of a pen?

What did the prosecutor mean when he would seek the maximum sentence for Michael Bell and what effect does such a statement have over that judges impartiality?

Why was Michael Bell’s father added to the witness list and then never called as a witness?

Why was I told by Mr. Washington of the Western District of LA DA’s office that I need to read the police report regard the Bell Case and why was I subsequently informed by the Jena Police that they could offer no further information regarding the case?

Why were the white assailants with a gun at the convenience store not charged with a crime?

What is the Case # in Lexis

Why was the man who beat up the black youth at the off-campus party charged only with simple battery yet Mychal Bell was originally charged with attempted murder and now faces an aggravated assault charge among others, how was his assault any more egregious?

How exactly did Michael Bell commit aggravated assault with his sneaker?

Why did the public defender not challenge the all-white jury pool?

Why did the public defender not call any witnesses?

Why did the public defender put on no evidence ?

The public defender after resting his case without calling any witnesses stated that he knew he would be second-guessed by many, but was confident that the jury would return a verdict of not guilty. Given the guilty plea and his failue to challenge the jury pool, place any evidence into the record, why should we not hold the public defender in scrutiny?

By any other colorTh

constituent 17.Jul.2007 02:51

Here is what I don't get... if the color equation were reversed, democracy now and others would be crying "hate crime, hate crime" and demanding congress do something along the lines of mandatory minimums, etc.

I don't agree with locking anyone up for any reason, but let's face it... 6 guys got together and decided to beat the shit out of some white kid, on the basis of his race... and yet you want to make this about white racism? This is a story about mutual disrespect between all humans, regardless of color.

If in your heart of hearts you believe that this case is somehow symptomatic of race relations in the south, you really are clueless. What this is symptomatic of is a criminal justice system that is completely out of whack*d u with human dignity, and the continuation of an educational system that was designed to minimize all humans to nothing more than labor... Do you remember how much school sucked? Kids spend all day looking for anything to fight about. This time, race was sorta the reason.

The noose prank was wrong, caring about someone sitting under one tree or another is also wrong... but you must understand that these juvenile, little things have more to do with social circles and temporary petty alliances than race. I'm certain the individual who sat beneath the tree was not the first black to do so, but probably the first that didn't hang out with those particular kids that normally occupied the space. If it were another unwelcome white kid, they'd have just beaten his ass after a football/basketball game, etc. and everyone would have moved on. But the student who broke protocol being black, the kids chose to do a (rather f*d up in my opinion) prank rather than to actually act out violently and risk a full scale blowout between people who normally got along.

Is there injustice in the world? Yes. Racial Harmony? Yes. Social Discord? Yes. Everywhere.

some things don't change

bighar 23.Jul.2007 23:45

Our pastor told us about this injustice in church Sunday and asked that all members sign two pre-written letters, one for the D.A. and another for Gov. Blanco expressing our outrage about this racial injustice. They will take notice and hopefully bring this matter into national attention.


JHS Grad 26.Jul.2007 13:01

Just for the sake of fighting, the "white" tree is BS. The black kids were already sitting there, and one of the kids asked if he could sit in a certian spot - someone HAD been sitting there. Jeez, you know, there is always going to be unrest between the races, but, until the 6 kids beat up the 1 kid into unconsciousness, we always got along. Seriously, the school system and judicial system is handling this the best they can. We aren't like huge cities that deal with this everyday.

So where is the real defences team?

franceskinraid New Zealand 18.Aug.2007 22:55

I read this with concern. I saw on TV pictures of large expensive vehicles as Race relations factions from all over parked in Jena. So where is the legal team to get some justice for these boys? I would have thought that was withing the grasp of the races relations factions.
Watching this from New Zealand where I am often involved as a supporter in the defence of Black Africans. Seems to me sometimes they just sleep walk to Jail, with Lawyers very half-hearted in the defence of these people. Our prison population is mostly brown or black. The lawyers have a lot to answer for.Get active and get a good lawyer for these lads.

Whites reffeuse to admit racism when it clearly exists

chienpsu 22.Aug.2007 13:34

To ther person who wrote "By any other color TH". It is clear to me, that you and many other white americans, love to live in a fantasy land. The color of your skin clearly protects you and you like it. To say "the noose prank was wrong" shows a clerly your lack of insgiht and frankly your lack of character. Nooses with people hanging from them means, hate, death and racial intimidation, PERIOD!!!.

Putting someone in a locker, foaming a room, pennying a door, putting icy hot in jockstraps, putting a bug in a drink etc..NOW THOSE ARE PRANKS..

Wake up..smell the coffee..your a closeted bigot and dont even know it. The white kids got lesser punishment in a town that now gets to have their dirty laundy aired nationally. Your ignorance of this and what it means to people of color in this country is appalling, but trust me nothing new to black america.

Bewildered and Dismayed

Dismayed 27.Aug.2007 23:54

I am bewildered and dismayed that the racial atmosphere in Jena,LA requires AMERICAN citizens to ask permission to do something simple as sit under a tree. God Bless America!!!!!!!!

black alliances

plain tired 28.Aug.2007 00:38

Here we go again...a black person is accused of a crime and every black preacher, politician or organization is looking to make a name for themselves by jumping on the anti-white band wagon.The charges against thes young men are RIDICULOUS to say the least, but who, of all of their supporters, is actually there for any reason other than the fact they are black...NONE!If black folks amd white folks are ever gonna make any progress, we have to rid ourselves of those who only want to get involved if it is someone of the same color.If these young men are to be tried, then let's have realistic charges but above all else...let's be more concerned that CHILDREN, period, are being sent off to prison and not just be upset if it is one of our own race...peace out!

This is wrong

The prosecutorial conflict of Interest 28.Aug.2007 18:28

“Conflict of interest” How can the Prosecutor be the staff attorney for the school board and be the local prosecutor at the same time. This clearly a conflict of interest or a miscarriage of justice. I was the first black chief of police in Aiken, SC and I fought the system like in this situation. The leverage of case should be the investigation by independent agency to determine what had happen and a special prosecutor should be call in to give fairness to the case. How can we as Americans both white and black not see the racial apathy in this situation? The Louisiana politicians should be held accountable for this misguided prosecutorial act by the prosecutor and the impeached.

My Thoughts and Opinion on the Michael Bell Case

Jaroy B. Johnson 29.Aug.2007 14:23

We live in a day and time where people avoid both, the truth as well as reality and Mr. Bell has been victimized by such lack of attention. Mr. Bell actions weren’t based on racism, they were based on the fact that he was treated in the most demeaning and inhumane fashion ever imagined. I’m not saying his actions were handled in the best way, but I don’t walk in Mr. Bell shoes either. So I can’t say what I would’ve done “if” I was Mr. Bell. However, I think the fact that some concluded that his actions were racist driven only confirms the fact that racial blinders still exist. Not to mention the obvious diversion to avoid speaking on the true matter on hand and that’s the UNJUSTICE system. The variables in this equation are plain to see as well as to conclude, therefore, I will not waste time readdressing them. The fact is African and European children in that rural part of Louisiana normally don’t interact with each other until High School, is that not a problem? I’d say it is and at the highest peak at that. Mr. or Ms. Constituent 17 made the comment and I quote, “Here is what I don't get... if the color equation were reversed…” I think it’s unfair to say what would happen in the event of “if”, and I’m basing this off its definition. To say if is to say I don’t know, and when you add in the UNJUSTICE system with if, you get a different answer each time. I conclude Mr. Bell should be giving the right to another trial, a “FAIR” trial, with the highest regard for equality in an unbiased environment. You can’t have a jury deliberate as your peer and your peer perceives himself to be better than you. I believe that’s the definition of oppression. Change is imminent, the question is will those lacking vision grasp it?

Thank you,

Good Reason Not To Participate

Ex GI 06.Sep.2007 00:23

Recently, the news media reported that Blacks, who use to join the military are not doing so as the use to. My thoughts are: Every Black parent should cut this article out and show it to their son or daughter if they enven suggest joining the military. The truth is you can die for this country but you wiull never have equal rights.

Never again


Anomander Rake 06.Sep.2007 15:44

Black Alliances, surely you jest. You ask why the entire black community is ganging up behind this guy? Simple, it's because time and time again, that has proven to be the only way to get justice in the South. History is full of such examples. People are doing what they are doing because they NEED to do it. If they had done this earlier, tell me, would the lad have been sentenced to 22 years?

Come on man, think about it! The fact that it doesn't affect you doesn't necessarily mean you can't see it.

A Blind Eye to Justice

vllybll0354 09.Sep.2007 20:33

The crime that the prosecutor and the jury committed was more wrong than all the children in the case. Where is racsims taught -- at home!!! Don't teach your children to hate!!!

Our government, our people, and the world get over the race issue, no one is going anywhere. If you have a problem w/someone don't let it be because what color they are. Let it be for other reason. It would be smarter for our country as a whole join together to fight illegal immigration or American's and other children starving every night. This is bs that we still fight amoung ourselves. This is my tree-- who cares it is a tree. God gave us all deminion over the plants and animals-- deal w/it everyone. While we fight each other we are slowly losing a battle between us and our country beinging illegally taken over.

Injustice in Jena, Louisiana, USA: The "White" Tree

Kimberlee 19.Sep.2007 15:46

my comment on here is this:
I think that Mr. Mychal Bell should stand trial for part in this so called hate crime. And that is exactly what this is. Those (6) black youths took upon themselves and attacked (1) white boy. One on One is fine, but (6) on one that is ridiculous. Mr. Bell should get them maximum and serve his time. Along with the other (5) black youths as well. And now if it were reversed, if it was (6) white boys and (1) black boy the outcome would and should still be the same. They all should be tried as an adult. plain and simple. This is not injustice, this is justice.